April Newsletter 2009

Hi and welcome to April’s newsletter.

After moaning last month about the fate of the wild garlic that we’d planted in the autumn, I was really pleased to see a few of them have started to throw up a few leaves – they haven’t all rotted away. Unfortunately, I don’t think there will be any for sale this season, though. There is plenty of it growing wild in woodlands in the South and West of the country. Ransoms, to give wild garlic its common name, prefers a moist semi-shaded site and the flowers appear in late spring – usually during April. Both the flowers and leaves are edible and have become quite trendy plants to have on restaurant menus.


Wild Garlic

This year, apart from Zsuzsa, our chief propagator, we have a whole new crew at the nursery. After a couple of weekends out learning the ropes, everyone left in the vans for their first solo shows. Luckily, the sun was shining on both Saturday and Sunday - nothing worse than spending your first weekend in the rain! Everyone returned in one piece – ditto for the vans, although last week there had been a minor collision between a post in Tesco car park and a rear indicator lens……..

The nursery’s full to bursting now; it’s getting to the point where potting has slowed right down as there is nowhere left to put the herbs. There are lots outside, particularly the salad herbs. They don’t mind a bit of frost but it is the hail that can do the damage. One bad shower last year ripped and battered the larger leaf varieties making them unsaleable.

Herbs in Polytunnel

Every year we like to try growing a new salad herb and this year it is pak choi. It has all been potted up now and is looking lovely and juicy. Have to see if anyone else thinks so.

The new office is up and running at long last. It was originally ordered during the spring of 2008 and finally ended up arriving in the autumn on a Lithuanian artic. The drivers sat nav took him as far as the church up the hill and round the corner. As he didn’t speak any English the office rang us to go and rescue him. It was only a few days later that we realized the assembly instructions were also in Lithuanian. Still it went up, finally! It is very solid and well insulated and I reckon you could live in there. John managed to obtain a load of office furniture for free when some one was refurbishing so it looks very professional inside. What it means is that we are no longer fighting over the use of one computer in a cramped space and so we can answer queries more quickly. I hope.

New Office

A friend, Ali, has been trying out a few herb recipes for us and these are attached at the end of this newsletter. I had a farmers market in London this weekend and had some one help who used to work for us. As this is the time of year that sorrel is looking lush and ready for eating, he was telling me one of his favourite quick snacks is to chop a small handful of sorrel finely and then sauté it in a some butter. He then puts this onto toast and tops it off with a poached egg. Sounds nice.

Think that’s all for this month. Have a great Easter, hope it’s sunny.



Mint Mojitos

Mint leaves
Half a Lime
15 mls sugar syrup
60 mls White Rum
120 mls soda water
Ice cubes

Crush the mint leaves and lime in to the bottom of the glass and add the ice cubes. Mix the sugar syrup, White Rum and Soda water together and add to the glass.

Smoked Haddock and Winter Savoury Lasagne

500g Smoked Haddock
500g Baby leaf Spinach
1 clove Garlic
1 large handful Winter Savory
150g Ricotta cheese
1.2 litres Full cream milk
65g butter
65g Plain flour
1 tsp nutmeg
2 bay leaves
50g Parmesan cheese
1 tblsp Olive oil
1 packet lasagne sheets
4 tblsp double cream

Place the milk and bay leaves into a large pan. Remove the skin from the smoked haddock and add to the pan. Bring to a gentle simmer until the fish is just cooked through. Put to one side. Meanwhile, crush the garlic and gently fry in the olive oil. Do not let the garlic colour. Add the spinach, and a splash of water to the pan and cover. Remove from the heat and allow to wilt for 5-10 mins. Season to taste. In a seperate saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the sieved flour, stirring continuously over a low heat. When the mixture is combined and glossy add the milk from poaching the fish, discarding the bay leaves. Do not stop whisking until the milk is combined and the sauce is thick and creamy. Finely chop the de-stalked Winter Savory, stir into the sauce and season to taste. In a bowl combine the wilted Spinach, Ricotta and double cream. Place a third of the spinach mixture into a large lasagne dish followed by a layer of flaked fish, then the Winter Savioury sauce. Add a layer of dried lasagne sheets. Continue to layer finishing with the Winter Savory sauce and the grated parmesan. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C/375F/GM5 for 45 mins until golden. Serve with Green salad and crusty bread.